Milk "Mayonnaise" (Maionese de Leite)

By • February 5, 2010 • 31 Comments

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Author Notes: On a trip to Spain about a decade ago, I encountered a pillowy white condiment that no matter how I describe here won't sound nearly as exciting as it was at that moment: the sauce was a mayonnaise made with milk and oil and not a trace of egg. It was silkier and lighter than regular mayonnaise, more like a glossy Italian meringue that tasted like olive-oil-whipped cream. I put it on my mental "story ideas" list, where it lived for the next ten years. Just a few days ago, I heard that David Leite, the founder of Leite's Culinaria, had a recipe for the sauce in his book, "The New Portuguese Table." Like a good(ish) sport, I sucked it up and made David's recipe. Four times. (I'll save you the painful details: don't go off-road here, use an immersion blender or a blender, like he says.) And on that fourth try, I had something reveletory: sauce that had the texture of buttercream and the clear flavor of an infusion. There was fragrance from garlic, tang from lemon juice, and silkiness from the butterfat emulsifying with the oil.

David learned the recipe from Ilda Vinagre, a chef in Portugal (who, in turn, had learned it from a cook in Brazil). Following Ilda's lead, David likes to mix in green olives; ginger; sun-dried tomatoes; and smoked paprika. I'm happy with it plain.

And although I wish I were less of a procrastinator, I'm happy that David wrote about the mayonnaise first. For one thing, I would have never figured out the technique. And for another, Leite means milk. And Mr. Milk should own the milk mayonnaise story.
Amanda Hesser

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/3 cup very cold whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • About 3/4 cup vegetable oil, or 1/2 cup vegetable oil plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  1. Combine the milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Using a handheld blender (or a blender), buzz on high for 30 seconds until frothy. With the motor running on high, slowly pour in the oil a few drops at a time, and gradually increase this to a fine thread, moving the blender up and down, until the mixture thickens lusciously and resembles a soft mayonnaise. You may need more or less oil. Season with salt to taste. The mayonnaise will last up to 1 week in the fridge.
Jump to Comments (31)

Comments (31) Questions (1)

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over 1 year ago nilly

I will try this soon with grapeseed oil which is quite neutral and should work

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes -- let us know how it goes!

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over 1 year ago Fiamma Swainston

Ate something quite like this in the Middle East...more of a Garlic Puree...absoluetly delish...I used 3 plump garlic cloves!

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over 1 year ago Christina

I have just made this. Delicious and so easy. Definitely less temperamental than making ordinary mayo.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you liked it.

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about 2 years ago Scribbles

Rainy late afternoon here in NC and I was pursuing the 'contest winners' section when I came upon this recipe. I'm not a big mayo person but I keep a canola oil version around for my husband - better nutritionally than regular mayo....all this to say I am excited to find this recipe and will try it this week. My husband is a big fan of the 'creamy' dressings and, from the comments, this sounds like the perfect base.

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about 2 years ago mboerner

This recipe solves the problem of raw egg yolk in mayonnaise (which might have E-Coli).

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over 3 years ago Nancyjenkins

I have to be the last person to comment on this. I've been thinking about trying this for a year and finally took the plunge. As a 100% olive oil maven, I have banned vegetable oil from my kitchen so it was 100% olive oil or nothing. Also vinegar because the lemons didn't make it home from the shop. And. . . I made it in the food processor, having first tired a stick blender and then an electric hand beater. It is a wonderful sauce, mine a little green because I was using a fresh Spanish olive oil (Castillo de Canenas) and, yes, it was a little bitter, but not unpleasantly so--intriguingly so! Next time I'll try it with some of my own oil from the 2009 harvest. Don't agree with the person who recommended "fresh" oil--this is one of those places where you can comfortably use oil from a previous season, and it will be the better for it.
Sorry to go on at such length, but it's a fine and intriguing recipe. Thanks, David Leite, and thanks, Amanda!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Didn't know it would work in a food processor. Thanks, Nancy!

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wondering what brand of olive oil those of you who've made this have used. I'm going to try this, but am concerned about the problem of bitterness mentioned here. (I use a good California oil, but it has slightly peppery notes . . . . ) Thanks so much. ;o)

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

I used my own olive oil which is a "field blend" of about 4 different kinds of olives. I think that it is important to use a California oil because it is fresh and it doesn't have to travel. Heat and light are the oils worst enemies. Also, olive oil does not get better with age. This advice is for Antonia James because I know she lives in CA and there are a lot of local oils for you to try. (coincidentally, a lot of wineries also make olive oil).

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I use Frantoia Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

Am I the last Food52er to "discover" this recipe! I used all olive oil...fresh...no bitterness. I added tarragon (my favorite herb) and the tarragon mayonnaise turned out perfectly. I can hardly wait to try it with other herbs. It tasted great just plain too. Thanks Amanda!

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about 4 years ago TiggyBee

No, I think I am!! This stuff looks and sounds amazing!!

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almost 5 years ago Allison Cay Parker

I've made this many times, but variations (I think it was cilantro that I tried from David Leite's book). Personally, I hate mayonnaise--it's a huge point of contention in the family, as my husband eats mounds of it (homemade only) with almost everything--but the milk "mayo" is something I enjoy, so I'd say that Mr. Leite has brokered a truce in the house, for which I thank him. I've also cooked many other dishes from his NEW PORTUGUESE TABLE book, and everything I've tried has been really fabulous so far. Well written, tasty food, makes a foreign cuisine accessible. Amanda, I'm glad you featured this recipe and his book in this post.

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almost 5 years ago Agnes

I made this and it tasted slightly bitter. I think that is because (I now recall) olive oil should not go in the blender. I think the recipe would be improved if the vegetable oil were blended in, and then the olive oil whisked in. (I believe there is a cook's illustrated recipe for (regular) mayo that gives those instructions.)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You can also use all vegetable oil, which would emphasize the garlic and citrus more.

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almost 5 years ago Agnes

Tried it this way, and it doesn't work--I couldn't whisk fast enough to emulsify the olive oil properly and it didn't thicken the way it should've--still served it--chilled it in the freezer to thicken, and it was ok, a lot better than the thicker, bitter, olive oil in blender version. But I'm left thinking it shd. be made with all veg. oil, as Amanda suggests in her reply.

Ry_400

almost 5 years ago melissav

It may be the type of olive oil. I used a different type of olive oil the second time I made this and it was a little bitter whereas the first time there was no hint of bitterness.

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almost 5 years ago Flotch

I loved how this turned into such a velvety mix. So easy and versatile. I used lime juice since lemons are not easily available in Bombay and it still turned out pretty good. Thanks Amanda.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for your message -- great to know that it works with other citrus and on other continents!

Ry_400

almost 5 years ago melissav

I'm not a huge mayo fan (shocking, I know) but this recipe intrigued me. I made it last night and since I ate a few spoonfuls right from the bowl (which I would never ever do with "real" mayo), I think it is safe to say that I'm a milk mayo fan! It was really delicious. I mixed some with a little anchovy paste, salted capers, and Piment d'Espelette and served it on top of a piece of seared fish. Divine!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Divine, indeed.

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almost 5 years ago queenie_nyc

I made this over the weekend and have been eating it on EVERYTHING. Thanks so much, Amanda! (I also blogged it! http://queenietakesmanhattan...)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hey, that's cool -- thanks!

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almost 5 years ago EBeier

This is a great recipe--how can any of us not love a recipe whose ingredients are all likely in your fridge or pantry rightthissecond and that (as long as you have a blender or an immersion blender) takes about 45 seconds to prepare? It's the kind of thing you taste right off your finger or the blender beaters and then think of a whole bunch of things you'd like to try it with. After finishing my finger snack, I used it to sauce some leftover chicken, and then as a sort of English salad cream on bibb lettuce. Both were tasty as could be. It could be used on anything you'd use old-fashioned boiled dressing on, and would make a great base for a blue cheese dressing, a matrix for chicken or shrimp salad, or--with a stuffed cup of minced herbs thrown in--a crudite dip.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

E.B. -- I hadn't thought of the English salad cream connection. Of course! The texture is so much like that.

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almost 5 years ago liamoran

I avoided this recipe since the day you posted it...I am not good at making homemade mayonnaise. I couldn't fall asleep last night because I was thinking about it. (This is a true story!) I got up, read through the recipe and promised myself I would make it this morning. I finally got to use my immersion blender that I received as a Christmas gift! The mayonnaise is divine! For brunch I had boiled eggs, a smear of milk mayonnaise and a dash of smoked paprika. And then I went on a five mile run.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

How great! And love how you used it -- will try that, too.

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almost 5 years ago Duna

Doesn't the lemon juice curdle the milk, and make it sour?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think it helps coagulate the milk solids so they emulsify with the oil. And it doesn't taste sour -- in fact, it's pleasantly tangy.